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Employment and Jobs

Innovations in State Employee Ownership Policy


States around the country are increasingly recognizing the benefits of employee ownership in creating and retaining good jobs and successful businesses in their communities. And in response, they are developing new legislation and policies to support the growth of employee ownership within their states by offering additional tax incentives, financial support, and other assistance and resources. Join us for this panel at our second Employee Ownership Ideas Forum, Employee Ownership on the Ground.

The forum will bring together members of Congress and their staff, government officials, practitioners, researchers, think tanks, philanthropy, investors, and the leaders of employee-owned companies. The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program and the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University are excited to bring innovative employee share ownership initiatives from around the country to DC to highlight how this bipartisan approach to improving jobs, wealth creation, and business performance is helping create more equitable economies in states, cities, and rural communities. Join us to learn more about these developments and how states are innovating to catalyze the growth of employee ownership.


Mike Padden

State Senator, Washington

Mike Padden, a resident of the Spokane Valley since 1978, represents the 4th Legislative District in the state Senate. Sen. Padden is the Republican leader of the Senate Law and Justice Committee. He also serves on the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee.

Sen. Padden was elected to the state House in 1980 and served as a citizen legislator for more than 14 years. He returned to the Legislature after election to the Senate in 2011. During his legislative career his many leadership roles have included House Majority Floor Leader and chair of the Law and Justice Committee. In March 1995 he was appointed Spokane County District Court judge and won three additional terms through countywide elections. His willingness to listen and work with both sides served him well; his fellow judges twice elected him to be the court’s presiding judge, managing a budget of approximately $7.8 million and a staff of 150 employees. He retired from that position in January 2007. In 2008, he was appointed to serve on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as the Judicial Outreach Liaison overseeing therapeutic traffic safety issues in five states — Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Alaska.

Sen. Padden has earned the reputation of standing strong on principle – no higher taxes, smaller government, and defender of life. He is equally well-known for having a strong willingness to engage in the legislative process and has proven successful in forging coalitions to pass legislation, even when in the minority.

Sen. Padden is a graduate of Spokane’s Gonzaga University and earned his law degree from the Gonzaga University School of Law in 1974. He is active in his church, having served the past six years on the parish council, and is a long-time member of the Knights of Columbus. Sen. Padden has also served as a state commissioner for American Legion Baseball and is past president of the Spokane chapter. He is also an active volunteer for the Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels program.

Naquetta Ricks

State Representative, Colorado

Representative Naquetta Ricks is the first African immigrant to be elected to the Colorado General Assembly, and the first Liberian American to be elected to any state legislature. When she was only 13, she was forced to flee the civil war in Liberia, and her family settled in Aurora, Colorado. Representative Ricks received her undergraduate degree in accounting at MSU, and her MBA from the University of Colorado Denver.  

In the summer of 2023, Rep. Ricks was selected to further her leadership education by attending the Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State & Local Government program. She is the owner and operator of a successful small mortgage brokerage business and is the founder and President of the African Chamber of Commerce, Colorado USA. As a leading Black woman in business and politics, she works tirelessly to improve her community by helping build economic opportunities, and by championing the rights of immigrants and refugees. 

In her first session in the General Assembly, she led the fight on groundbreaking legislation including the creation of the Immigration Legal Defense Fund, the Diverse K-12 Educator Workforce Report, the Towing Bill of Rights, the Behavioral Health-care Continuum Gap Grant Program, and the Prohibition of Reporting Medical Debt on Consumer Credit Report, which was recently adopted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For her efforts, Representative Ricks has been recognized with many awards, including Habitat for Humanity’s 2021 Legislator of the Year; the 2021 and 2022 Colorado Bankers Association Spurs Award; the 2021 LGBQT Chamber Legislator of the Year; the 2022 Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network Liberty Award; and is a member of Healthier Colorado’s Leadership Circle.

Kerry Siggins

CEO, StoneAge 

Kerry Siggins is the CEO of StoneAge, a fast-growing, employee-owned manufacturing and technology company based in Colorado. In 2023, Siggins was named the Entrepreneur of the Year by EY and Colorado’s CEO of the Year by ColoradoBiz Magazine. StoneAge is recognized as a top company to work for by Outside Magazine and Inc. Magazine. 

She is a dynamic, sought-after speaker who presents worldwide at corporations, universities, and conferences. Siggins hosts “Reflect Forward,” a popular leadership podcast, and she is an author, blogger, and contributor to Forbes, Entrepreneur, Authority Magazine, and BIC Magazine. Her blog is visited by thousands of readers each month.

Paul Kinghorn

Director, Center for Business and Innovation Growth and Advance Iowa, University of Northern Iowa

Bio is forthcoming


Zach Warmbrodt

Financial Services Editor, Politico

Zach Warmbrodt is POLITICO’s financial services editor and co-author of the Morning Money newsletter. He has covered financial policy at POLITICO since 2012, including the regulatory agencies, Congress and lobbying.

Event information
Tue Apr 9, 2024